JOHNSTOWN — At 10 years old, Noah Scott, a student at Broadalbin-Perth School, is the owner of the kind of smooth, easy swing that makes golfers many years his senior turn green with envy.
That list includes Noah’s father, Rich Scott, who as the club pro at Johnstown’s Fox Run Golf Club, can count himself as something of an expert on the subject.
“He’s a lot better than me,” Rich said, watching his son tee off Thursday at Fox Run’s 10th hole. “He’s got a better swing than I do.”
Noah’s is a swing that, like so many other great swings, looks almost too effortless for the ball to jump off the club face as straight and long as it does on a frighteningly frequent basis. Perhaps it’s only appropriate that Noah swings the club so purely. After all, he’s had a golf club in his hands almost as long as he’s been able to walk.
“I’ve been playing since I was 18 months old,” Noah said. “I was putting when I was 18 months.”
“When he was just growing up, we lived on Amsterdam Muni, and he was putting from 18 months old,” Rich said. “He was just walking, and he was putting. It was great. Probably at about four years old, he was starting to develop a swing, and from there, it was just about getting his hands on the club the right way and getting him to follow through, and he did the rest himself.”
The swing was on display on a cloud-streaked Wednesday afternoon at Fox Run as father and son — decked out in identical black-and-white Nike golf shirts and khakis — hit the back nine for a few after-school practice holes.
From Noah’s first move on the ball off the 10th tee, it’s obvious just how comfortable the youngster is on the links. Taking nary a practice swing, he hones right in on the ball and uncorks his first drive; down the right side of the fairway, bouncing slightly onto the first cut of rough.
A quick cart trip later — with Noah chauffeuring his father around, of course — and he’s got an iron in his hands from a little more than 150 yards away.
This particular distance is of special significance to the Scott family, because back in May, from about 155 yards out, Noah holed out an eagle on Fox Run’s sixth hole.
“The eagle was unbelievable,” Rich said. “Just to be out there — and my wife was with us out there at the same time — watching him hit that eagle  was probably the proudest moment that I’ve had. It was awesome.”
Noah didn’t quite eagle the 10th, though his approach shot landed softly on the green — closer to the pin than his dad’s ball — and two-putted for a par that earned him an encouraging pat on the back.
Of course, natural or not, in golf there will always be wayward shots and precarious situations, and even at his tender age, Noah Scott is well aware of it. In fact, he ran into several of those instances during Wednesday’s abbreviated outing.
On the 11th, his second shot fell short of the green and plopped into a bunker, eliciting a sheepish smile. On the par-3 12th, Noah pulled out his 5-iron and, despite a leading question from his father, used the club anyway and came up short.
“I let him pick the club,” Rich said. “He makes the call.”
The 13th brought several adventures. Noah’s drive veered very slight left, right into the path of one of Fox Run’s towering pine trees. The ball scraped the very top branches, sending a bird flapping madly out of its nest. His next shot landed in front of the green and bounced madly, rolling onto the putting surface before catching a slope and skittering away.
“That really rolled a little different from what I remember,” Noah said, smiling even as he shakes his head.
Still, he never gets frustrated. The demeanor of father and son mirror each other nearly as much as their identical outfits; calm, easygoing, smiling even when a shot careens off course. That attitude has been forged, Rich said, from growing up with the game as a constant presence in his life.
“He has great golf course etiquette,” Rich said. “He’s been good since day one, because he grew up around it, and he knows what to do, where to drive. He actually helps the adults with where to be on the course.”
The round ends, appropriately, with Rich dispensing another golf lesson. Noah’s tee shot on the 14th settled neatly into a patch of overgrown grass so tall you could lose a 2-iron in it. Once they finally combed through it enough to find the ball, Rich gave his son a couple simple instructions.
“Open up the club face and just swing as hard as you can,” he said.
The swing comes, and the ball pops up and barely escapes its current briar patch, landing just outside of trouble.
“Well, you got out of it,” came the encouragement from Rich.
When Noah finally tapped his putt in to finish off the practice session, the smile was still there, even as his father playfully ruffled his hair. That’s not something Rich does with most of his students, but neither are many of his teaching practices with Noah.
“With Noah, I don’t have to change too much, nor do I want to try to change too much,” he said. “I want to let him kind of figure it out on his own a little bit and just give him some guidance so he can get to where he wants to be.”
That’s the way its been for the Scotts for as long as Noah’s had a club in his hand. Rich hands out advice, Noah goes through his process of trial and error until everything’s done right.
Although, Rich has been known to sneak a teaching point on his son when he least expects it, especially during the formative years of Noah’s swing.
“When he first started swinging the club, instead of just giving him the driver and having him go out and hit balls, we went to a pond on the golf course and I let him hit balls into the pond,” Rich said. “Gave him a 7-iron and let him hit as many as he wanted right into the pond. Then I kind of tricked him a little bit, because there was a teachable moment. I say, ‘Hey, let’s see if you can get it over the water now.’ He took a bigger swing, and the first ball hit the water, skipped and went up on the other side. Then he hit another one, and that one went over.”
Noah’s goals for his future sit far higher than pitching balls over ponds. He’ll play eight to 10 events on the Junior PGA Tour this year, and when he reaches seventh grade, he plans to play varsity golf.
Beyond that?
“At this point, he can go as far as he wants to go,” Rich said. “If he wants to practice hard, he can go on and play college golf, he can go on to the pros if he wants.”
“I want to go as far as pros and be on tour,” Noah said. “Hopefully I’ll get there. I will get there. That’s my goal.”